The Art of Apology: How to Say Sorry in Spanish

Elly Kim8 min
Created: Jun 24, 2024Last updated: Jul 3, 2024
 Sorry in Spanish

As we learn a language, its vocabulary and grammar take center stage. But spoken communication involves more than stringing words together. Cultural aspects come into play as well. One element is the way people apologize. To say sorry in Spanish, you should pay attention to the context and tone. The right apology mends relationships and shows respect, whether for a minor mistake or a serious offense. This article looks at ways to ask for forgiveness in Spanish.

Common Ways to Say Sorry in Spanish

Starting with basic Spanish words and phrases that convey politeness you'll create a solid foundation for the language. Sorry is one of them; it carries significant weight in everyday interactions. Several ways to express regret exist. We will look at 5 ways to say sorry in Spanish below:

  • Lo siento [lo ˈsjento] – I’m sorry. It is the most common apology used for both minor and serious matters.

Lo siento, no era mi intención molestarte. [lo ˈsjento, no ˈeɾa mi intenˈsjon molestarˈte] – I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you.

  • Perdón [perˈðon] – Sorry. Used informally, often for minor interruptions or mistakes.

Perdón, ¿puedes repetir eso? [perˈðon, ˈpweðes reˈpetiɾ ˈeso] – Sorry, can you repeat that?

  • Disculpa [diskulˈpa] – Excuse me. Appropriate for getting someone’s attention or acknowledging small errors.

Disculpa, fue un error. [diskulˈpa, ˈfwe un eˈroɾ] – Excuse me, it was a mistake.

  • Te pido disculpas [te ˈpiðo diskulˈpas] – I apologize to you. A formal way to say sorry in Spanish with respect and sincerity.

Te pido disculpas por mi comportamiento ayer. [te ˈpiðo diskulˈpas poɾ mi komporˈtamjento aˈʝeɾ] – I apologize for my behavior yesterday.

  • Lo lamento [lo laˈmento] – I regret it. Conveys a deeper level of apology, suitable for more serious situations.

Lo lamento, debería haber pensado más en tus sentimientos. [lo laˈmento, deˈβeɾja aˈβeɾ penˈsaðo mas en tus senˈtjmjentos] – I regret it, I should have considered your feelings more.

Formal vs Informal Apologies in Spanish: When to Use Each

Different situations demand different kinds of apologies. A formal apology suits a professional setting or when addressing an elder. An informal sorry fits casual interactions with friends and family. Below are the options for how to say sorry in Spanish:

  • Mis disculpas [mis disˈkulˈpas] – My apologies. Used in professional or serious contexts to show respect and formality.

Mis disculpas por cualquier inconveniente causado. [mis disˈkulˈpas poɾ kwalˈkjeɾ inkoˈnjente kawˈsaðo] – My apologies for any inconvenience caused.

  • Le pido perdón [le ˈpiðo perˈðon] – I ask for your forgiveness. Appropriate when addressing someone in a higher position or when the apology needs to reflect a high level of respect.

Le pido perdón por el retraso en la entrega del proyecto. [le ˈpiðo perˈðon poɾ el reˈtraso en la enˈtɾeɣa del pɾoˈʝekto] – I ask for your forgiveness for the delay in the project delivery.

  • Acepte mis disculpas [aˈθepte mis disˈkulˈpas] – Please accept my apologies. Used to formally request forgiveness, especially in written communication or serious verbal exchanges.

Acepte mis disculpas por no haber respondido a su correo electrónico antes. [aˈθepte mis disˈkulˈpas por no aˈβeɾ resˈponðiðo a su koˈreo elektɾoˈniko ˈantes] – Please accept my apologies for not responding to your email sooner.

  • Quisiera disculparme [kiˈsjera disˈkulˈparme] – I would like to apologize. Often used in formal speeches or in a professional setting where a higher level of politeness is required.

Quisiera disculparme por cualquier malentendido que haya ocurrido. [kiˈsjera disˈkulˈparme por kwalˈkjeɾ malenˈtendiðo ke ˈaʝa okurˈriðo] – I would like to apologize for any misunderstanding that may have occurred.

  • Lo siento mucho [lo ˈsjento ˈmutʃo] – I am very sorry. This Spanish sorry phrase is used among friends or in less formal situations.

Lo siento mucho, no pensé que te molestaría tanto. [lo ˈsjento ˈmutʃo, no penˈse ke te molestaˈɾja ˈtanto] – I am very sorry, I didn’t think it would bother you so much.

  • Perdona [perˈðona] – Forgive me. A casual phrase for peers or close relationships.

Perdona, no quise interrumpirte. [perˈðona, no ˈkise interˈrumpiɾte] – Forgive me, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

  • Siento mucho esto [ˈsjento ˈmutʃo ˈesto] – I am really sorry about this. Used in an informal context to express sincere regret.

Siento mucho esto, fue un completo error de mi parte. [ˈsjento ˈmutʃo ˈesto, ˈfwe un komˈpleto eˈroɾ ðe mi ˈparte] – I am really sorry about this, it was a complete mistake on my part.

  • Fue sin querer [ˈfwe sin keˈɾeɾ] – It was unintentional. Expresses that something happened by mistake or without intention, typically among acquaintances.

Fue sin querer, realmente no vi tu mensaje. [ˈfwe sin keˈɾeɾ, reaˈlmente no βi tu menˈsaʝe] – It was unintentional, I really didn’t see your message.

  • De verdad lo siento [de βeˈɾðað lo ˈsjento] – I really am sorry. It is a heartfelt, informal phrase for sorry in Spanish that emphasizes sincerity.

De verdad lo siento, no fue mi intención causar tantos problemas. [de βeˈɾðað lo ˈsjento, no ˈfwe mi intenˈsjon kawˈsaɾ ˈtantos pɾoˈblemas] – I really am sorry, it was not my intention to cause so many problems.

  • Me sabe mal [me ˈsaβe mal] – I feel bad about it. Common in casual conversation, this phrase expresses personal regret over a situation.

Me sabe mal que hayas tenido que esperar tanto. [me ˈsaβe mal ke ˈʝaʝas teˈniðo ke espeˈɾaɾ ˈtanto] – I feel bad that you had to wait so long.


How to Accept an Apology in Spanish

Accepting an apology is important as well. A gracious response mends relationships and shows understanding. Different phrases express various degrees of forgiveness. Let’s look at what are sorry in Spanish responses:

  • Está bien [esˈta βjen] – It’s okay. This simple phrase is widely used to acknowledge and accept an apology informally.

Está bien, no te preocupes por eso. [esˈta βjen, no te pɾeoˈkupe poɾ ˈeso] – It’s okay, don’t worry about it.

  • No te preocupes [no te pɾeoˈkupes] – Don’t worry about it. Often used among friends to dismiss the seriousness of the situation.

No te preocupes, todos cometemos errores. [no te pɾeoˈkupes, ˈtoðos komeˈtemos eˈroɾes] – Don’t worry about it; everyone makes mistakes.

  • No hay problema [no ai pɾoˈblema] – No problem. A common and casual response that indicates everything is fine.

No hay problema, entiendo que fue un accidente. [no ai pɾoˈblema, enˈtjendo ke ˈfwe un aksiˈðente] – No problem, I understand it was an accident.

  • Te perdono [te perˈðono] – I forgive you. This sorry in Spanish expression is used when a more personal acknowledgment of forgiveness is needed.

Te perdono, sé que no fue tu intención herirme. [te perˈðono, ˈse ke no ˈfwe tu intenˈsjon eˈrirme] – I forgive you, I know it wasn’t your intention to hurt me.

  • Aprecio tu disculpa [aˈpɾeθjo tu disˈkulpa] – I appreciate your apology. Used when you want to acknowledge the other person's effort to apologize sincerely.

Aprecio tu disculpa, eso significa mucho para mí. [aˈpɾeθjo tu disˈkulpa, ˈeso siɣniˈfika ˈmutʃo ˈpaɾa mi] – I appreciate your apology; that means a lot to me.

  • Todo está olvidado [ˈtoðo esˈta oliβiˈðaðo] – All is forgotten. This response implies complete forgiveness and the intention to move past the incident.

Todo está olvidado, no hay razón para seguir hablando de eso. [ˈtoðo esˈta oliβiˈðaðo, no ai raˈθon paɾa ˈseɣiɾ aβˈlando de ˈeso] – All is forgotten, there’s no reason to keep talking about it.

  • Estamos bien [esˈtamos ˈβjen] – We’re good. Used to affirm that the relationship is still strong despite the incident.

Estamos bien, no te preocupes más por eso. [esˈtamos ˈβjen, no te pɾeoˈkupes ˈmas poɾ ˈeso] – We’re good, don’t worry about it anymore.

Common Mistakes When Saying Spanish Sorry

Expressing regret in any language needs care. But mistakes happen, especially for non-native speakers who may not understand all cultural details. Below are some common errors:

  • Mix-up of formal and informal language. People may use a casual phrase like lo siento [lo ˈsjento] when a more formal expression would better suit the situation. It makes the apology seem insincere or disrespectful.
  • Lack of attention to tone. Words alone do not convey an apology. Tone and body language also matter when you learn how to say I’m sorry in Spanish. An insincere voice makes even the best apology seem empty.
  • Incorrect pronouns or verb forms. The wrong pronoun or verb form can alter the meaning of your apology. For instance, using disculpa [diskulˈpa] when disculpe [diskulˈpe] is needed changes the tone from polite to casual.

Correct usage and attention to detail guarantee that people understand your message correctly.. Pay attention to these errors when you practice. This will help you learn Spanish in a more effective way.

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Saying I’m sorry in Spanish is more than translating words. You need to pick the right level of formality and convey sincerity through tone and body language. Mistakes are inevitable; learning from them helps you improve your speaking skills. Notice the small details of apologizing, and keep practicing.


What are some tips for apologizing?

In many Spanish-speaking cultures, eye contact shows sincerity. A light touch on the arm can also show empathy and regret, especially in informal settings.

Can you apologize using humor in Spanish culture?

Yes, but context matters. Humor can help friends feel relaxed. But it often does not fit in formal or serious situations, where it may appear rude.

How can I practice apologizing?

Role-playing with a native speaker or language partner helps. Watch films or series to observe how characters apologize in Spanish in various scenarios.

What are some resources for learning Spanish?

WordReference and Linguee are great tools for grasping vocabulary. They offer definitions and real-world usage examples. Promova’s blog provides word lists, grammar explanations, and insightful articles on differences between Spain Spanish and Latin Spanish.